John Parker, 6th Earl of Morley

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John St Aubyn Parker, 6th Earl of Morley KCVO DL (29 May 1923 – 20 September 2015) was a British peer, a professional soldier, and county dignitary. Morley was a staunch monarchist and royal servant.

John Parker was born at Saltram House on May 29, 1923, the son of Hon John Holford Parker (1886-1955) by his wife Hon Marjory Katherine Elizabeth St Aubyn, a daughter of the 2nd Baron St Levan. His grandfather was Albert, 3rd Earl Morley (1843-1905), and the 4th and 5th Earls, his uncles, had died without issue. The 5th Earl, known to the family as uncle Monty, was a soldier, and one of the original 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' on the Parker Expedition of 1911. The intrepid earl became an imperial hero, known for his derring-do. A trained archaeologist, he joined other civil servants in an excavation in Jerusalem on a very holy day in the city celebrated by all three great world religions. His courage did not prevent the street violence that erupted, forcing him to leave in a hurry, abandoning the tools of the trade in situ.


John's military forebears were intrepid courtiers, and one of the foremost families on the isthmus in the south-west, connected so closely with the sea. Parker was educated at Sunningdale school, Berkshire before Eton. In 1941 he enlisted in the 60th Regiment of Rifles, initially as a private soldier. He was soon recognised and promoted to a commission as a lieutenant in the infantry. His aristocratic lineage attracted him to the call of royal service. In 1944 he was drafted onto the royal protection squad at Buckingham Palace. Then in April 1944 he was invited to Sandringham to celebrate Princess Elizabeth's 18th birthday party. His fellow officers invited the Heir Apparent to the officer's mess, situated in the extensive Norfolk parklands.

Newly promoted Lieutenant Parker was sent to Germany with an anti-tank platoon. After the war he travelled across France and witnessed the scuttled French Fleet at Toulon. With Imperial decline still far from his mind, he was in Gaza as part of the British Mandate forces occupying Palestine. The infantry weapons training school employed Parker as an instructor, spending his free time duck shooting on the shores of Lake Huleh near Beersheba. In 1948, with India in abeyance, he was transferred with the Rifles into the Suez Canal Zone, where unrest threatened the security of the vital commercial ports. Already a Captain he was posted to Germany with the Royal Fusiliers, and thence to the Regimental depot in the Tower of London.[1]

After war broke out in Korea he was sent in 1952 attached to an Australian battalion. Four days before the conclusion of the ceasefire, Parker departed for Suez again to command a company at Gebelt in the hills behind the Red Sea in the hinterland occupied by Arabs. He rode a camel 450 miles from HQ, calling it Rhubarb, reciting the famous popular ditty, Lloyd George knew my father, my father knew Lloyd George. As an aristocrat he was painfully aware of death duties, and what it was doing to many families, forced from their homes by the Labour government's tax policy. With order restored he returned to England in 1954.

On 28 April 1962, the 5th earl died, and he inherited the title and deeds of Earl of Morley from his uncle. He was sent to Malta garrison during the period the island remained a British colony and protectorate before gaining full independence as a member of the Commonwealth. He was promoted to Lieutenant-colonel and took command of 1st battalion Royal Fusiliers 1965-7. Going through staff college at Camberley her was appointed GOC 1 East Midlands District in 1967 for three years. He retired from the army in 1970 with the rank of lieutenant-colonel from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.[2]


Having retired from military life Lord Morley became actively involved in farming interests. He had long been concerned about the national heritage, ever since the family's holdings had been alienated; from 1969 the Earl of Morley was on the regional committee of the National Trust. With extensive landed agricultural properties in the south-west, the company he chaired was Farm Industries Ltd, Truro, where he remained in charge for fifteen years. For good measure he was Governor of the new Seale Hayne Agricultural College in 1973.


A year later, already on the board, bankers in Exeter appointed him Chairman of Lloyds Bank south-west. Business in Devon was brisk for the Morley interest, and the earl was a member of the Chamber of Commerce from 1970 until his death. As President of Plymouth incorporated Chamber he was a central personality in the public life of the city. The following year he was invited to become President of West Country Tourist Board for eighteen years. And Cornwall paid Morley the same compliment by asking him to be President of the Federation of their Chambers during 1970s.

The law was also of concern: during the same period Morley was raised to the assizes as a JP for Plymouth before the reorganization. In 1974-5 he founded Plymouth Sound Ltd, and was appointed to the board of governors of Plymouth Polytechnic (now University of Plymouth). Playing such a role in the development of the two cities' tertiary sector, the polytechnic installed an Honorary Fellowship for him, whilst he picked up an Hon LLD from Exeter University.[3]

Royal duties[edit]

Not surprisingly Morley's main ceremonial royal duties were to deputise. He was appointed DL Deputy Lieutenant<(deputy lieutenant of Devon) in 1973 in recognition of his services to the land, although he had already lost the ancestral seat to the National Trust in 1957.[4]

He was made Lord Lieutenant of Devon, from vice-lieutenant,[5] in 1982.[6] a post usually reserved for military officers, and which was in the gift of the monarch. As the Queen's representative in Devon, he attended many official occasions, visits and events, liaising with the palace, and hosting, among others, President Mitterrand of France. The President and his wife arrived at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, to see the base where he had been billeted during 1939-45. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh knew and liked Morley, who provided a comprehensive security coverage when royal visitation occurred near sensitive naval installations. He also dealt promptly and efficiently with press calls. On one occasion Diana, Princess of Wales was notoriously late, driving too fast, broke down, and was escorted at Morley's command by police. He frequently played host to members of the royal family, accommodating and entertaining. In 1995 Prince Philip brought his entire entourage to Pound House on Dartmoor. Morley was a keen sportsman, and shot with a 12 bore regularly in the winter season. He had a smart shoot on his land and remained a committed countryman. His family lived at Pound House, Yelverton, on the edge of Dartmoor in the heart of the old mining Stannaries on the stag moors.[1]

In 1987 he was promoted to honorary Colonel of 4th battalion Devonshire and Dorsetshire Regiment, which had recently merged, and honour he held for life. On 9 May 1987 he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 4th Batt. The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, 1st Rifle Volunteers,[7] retiring in 1992 with the honorary rank of colonel.[8]


On 15 October 1955 he married Johanna Katherine, daughter of Sir John Molesworth St Aubyn, 14th Baronet of Fairfield House, Somerset.

They had two children: Mark Lionel Parker, 7th Earl of Morley (born 22 Aug 1956) and Lady Venetia Parker (born 5 Feb 1960). His son, Mark Lionel Parker succeeded him as 7th Earl of Morley (22 Aug 1956- ). The 7th earl was educated at Eton and joined the Royal Green Jackets. In 1999 he was a Captain. On 12 Nov 1983 he married Carolyn Jill, daughter of Donald McVicar of Meols, The Wirral. They had had issue: Alexandra Louise (born 1985), Olivia Clare (born 1987), and Helena Georgia (born 1991).

Lady Venetia Catherine Parker married on 20 September 1997, Francis Jonathan Longstreth Thompson, son of Professor Francis Michael Longstreth Thompson of Wheathampstead, Herts.[3]

The Earl died on 20 September 2015 at the age of 92. Following his funeral, a service of thanksgiving was held at Buckland Monachorum, Devon on 28 October 2015.[9]


  1. ^ a b The Daily Telegraph, Monday, 10 October 2015, Obituary [paper only], p.27
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 45162. p. 8579. 4 August 1970.
  3. ^ a b Burke's Peerage (1999), Morley
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 45974. p. 5951. 11 May 1973.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 47682. p. 13301. 7 November 1978.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 48980. p. 6389. 13 May 1982.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 51009. p. 9575. 27 July 1987.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 52945. p. 9728. 8 June 1992.
  9. ^

External links[edit]


Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Richard Hull
Lord Lieutenant of Devon
Succeeded by
Eric Dancer
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Montagu Brownlow Parker
Earl of Morley
Succeeded by
Mark Parker